Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday announced his proposals for preventing mass shootings in schools — none of which is related to firearms.
While polling shows voters are clamoring for such changes to gun laws as strengthening background checks, keeping guns out of the hands of people judged to be a danger to themselves or others, and limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines, Abbott instead ordered weekly door checks at schools across Texas.
In a letter to Mike Morath, the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, Abbott laid out his ideas in the wake of the May 24 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde in the southern part of the state, in which 19 fourth graders and two teachers were gunned down by an 18-year-old who was able to legally purchase two AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles in the week between his birthday and the day he brought one to the school.
A statement released by Abbott's office sets forth the governor's expectations:
Governor Abbott specifically requested TEA to:
- instruct school districts to identify actions they can take prior to the start of the new school year that will make their campuses more secure
- instruct all school districts to conduct weekly inspections of exterior doors to verify they are secure during school hours
- develop strategies to encourage school districts to increase the presence of trained law enforcement officers and school marshals on campuses
In Texas and elsewhere, Republican lawmakers have focused on so-called "door control" in the wake of the Uvalde shooting, blaming the fact that the gunman was able to get into the school rather than the fact that he was able to legally purchase a weapon that can cause mass carnage in a matter of seconds.
Those same Republicans have eschewed any attempt to pass gun reform laws that would strengthen background checks, raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles, or temporarily prevent people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others from possessing firearms.
"The point of 'door control' is the same as 'arm teachers' or 'mental health' — they don't really believe these things will solve the problem, the point is to distract us," Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) tweeted. "It's Republican Politicianese for 'hey look over there!' Stay focused: the problem is the guns."
Polling shows that voters overwhelmingly support gun law reform.
A Pew Research survey from 2021 found more than half of American adults, or 53 percent, support stricter gun laws. Specific reforms garner even more support, with 87 percent supporting a law that would prevent people with mental illnesses from buying guns; 81 percent supporting closing gun background check loopholes; 64 percent supporting bans on high-capacity ammunition magazines; and 63 percent supporting a ban on assault-style weapons.
President Joe Biden called for gun safety measures in a speech Thursday night, which he prefaced by saying:
According to new data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America. The number one killer. More than car accidents. More than cancer.
Over the last two decades, more school-aged children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined. Think about that: more kids than on-duty cops killed by guns, more kids than soldiers killed by guns.
For God's sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say "enough"? Enough.
Meanwhile, House Democrats plan to hold votes on gun reform legislation upon their return from recess next week.
The House Judiciary Committee advanced H.R. 7910, the Protecting Our Kids Act, out of committee Thursday night. The bill would raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic guns from 18 to 21; require gun owners to safely store firearms in their homes; ban high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds; and address gun trafficking by requiring serial numbers on guns.
The legislation is supported by Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization launched by former Rep. Gabby Giffords.
"THIS is what action looks like," Giffords tweeted after the committee advanced the bill.
During a mark-up hearing on H.R. 7910, Republicans voiced their opposition.
Rep. Greg Steube of Florida, appearing via Zoom from his home, showed off the guns he owns and complained that banning high-capacity magazines would inconvenience him by forcing him to buy different ammunition. Gun experts said Steube could easily buy different ammunition that would fit his weapons.
Rep. Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado, said, "In rural Colorado, an AR-15 is a gun of choice for killing raccoons before they get to our chickens."
Responded California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell: "Oh—Why didn't y'all just say so? We have to protect the chickens from the raccoons. Cool cool. So that's why our kids have to die in their classrooms. So we can protect the chickens. Makes total sense now."
Reprinted with permission from American Independent.
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